Two Boys

Rocco Paperiello


This story is about relationships between and among teenagers. This includes intimate relationships between young males. If you don't approve or are offended, then how come you're reading this? Go to some other Internet Site. (Of course some people actually cultivate being offended; if that's the case, read right on). As far as detailed descriptive sex acts, I think you may find some good ones in other stories right here on Nifty, but as of now I do not envision a lot of explicit detail in this one.

If, for some legal reason, you are not allowed to read this in your area of the world because of illogical laws, again I will not condone (publicly) anyone breaking the law, so either move or read sentence four. I definitely don't want the thought police after either of our callipygians.

Please, this story is sort of my property, so if you ever want to quote some of it (whatever for I wouldn't know), please e-mail me and also give proper attribution. As of now no one has permission to put this story on another Internet Site.

This story is almost entirely fictional, and autobiographical ONLY in the sense that many of the incidents in the story really happened, but in some cases to different people and under different circumstances. In other words I've simply adapted things that happened in my life to a fictional story. In fact, some aspects of both main characters are in part modeled from my own experiences. Some of my family members are also in this story, and perhaps (definitely) distorted a bit (a lot) at times and sometimes approaching caricature, but since I really don't expect them to sue, I'm taking the chance. All other characters are fictional, except as noted).

I welcome any feedback. Constructive criticism appreciated.

Rocco Paperiello


PART III -- Confrontation and Resolve

Chapter 76 -- Big Changes and Big Decisions

Everything was going so well and then our lives turned upside down. Well, actually mostly Jade's. But as I've said, if it happens to one of us, it happens to both of us. It started with an innocent phone call on a Saturday, two weeks before Christmas.

I heard my sister's yell from upstairs -- I mean I was upstairs. "Rocco, it's the phone again."

I thought that if we kept getting calls for TV sets, we'd have to hire help. (Well, so I'm exaggerating). But we sure get a lot lately, and we weren't missing as many calls now that Jade's number had been included on our circulars a number of months ago. I was breathing hard as I answered: "Hello, Rocco here." I added my name all the time since to let them know they got the right number.

"Hello, my name's Mrs. Webster, and you're the young man that distributed the paper about that boy Jade Brown? Do I have the right person?"

By the time my brain had completely caught up with what it had just heard, my heart rate was keeping time with the theme music of the movie One, Two, Three. "Yes. I'm Rocco." I was still finding it difficult to make my brain work. I wasn't this tense during the preliminary scholastic achievement test I had just taken. There was a large element of disbelief in there too.

"Well, young man, as I've said, my name's Mrs. Clara Webster and I `been looking at your circular for the past day or two and the first thing I did was call the nice pastor of Holmesburg Unitarian Church. An' he informed me that this was indeed a legitimate appeal for foster parents, and since we have had foster kids with us for more than a decade, and since now BJ and Kyle have gone to live on their own, well George, that's my husband, well George said why not, and so we were wonderin' if the young man on this circular, Jade Brown, is still in need of foster parents?"

I aged three months while she explained herself. (Apparently all in one breath too. Wonder if she sang? Sure had the lung power). My thoughts were totally mixed. Jade was so happy where he was now, but this could also be good for him and I was so mixed up, I almost didn't reply. But my conscience, the good part of it, finally won out. "Well yes Mrs. Webster, he is living with temporary foster parents right now." My brain refused to let me elaborate.

"Well, perhaps, he might be interested in staying with Mr. Webster and me. We don't have no youngsters runnin' 'roun' at present and it suddenly feels lonely. I was wonderin' if perhaps, since Mrs. Warfield stated that this young man was quite in need, that we could talk about it."

I was wondering if she talked like this all the time. And I was also not too surprised she had also contacted the Juvenile Department lady. I was almost wondering why then she felt a need to call me. Well I was hoping to find out. I was thinking about this and about calling Jade that I almost forgot to answer.

"Young man, are you still. . ."

"Why of course. Perhaps I can see you and we can talk about this. Where do you live?"

"Well, let me find that paper. You see, George just retired, and we just moved here from Kensington and I seem not to be able to remember that number, oh, here it is. Well anyway we live now at 8158 Montague St. Do you know how to find us?"

I was a little startled. That couldn't be more than a couple blocks from where Jade had previously lived. "Of course, . . . I'm only a few blocks away, on Meridian. And Jade lived only a few blocks from you before he moved. That is before he moved in where he lives now. I mean with his current foster parents. But they're just temporary." I was suddenly talking like Mrs. Webster. I wondered if it were catching.

"Well that's fine. Mr. Webster isn't here right now; I was preparing his lunch but I should be finished in a few short minutes and if it would be convenient, I suppose I could invite you for lunch and we could talk about this. Would that suit you, ah. . . yes, Rocco is your name?"

I finally disentangled myself from Mrs. Webster, although the phone cord took a little longer. It had apparently snaked itself around me while talking. That is while I was talking. I was trying to think. I impulsively started doing about a half dozen different things but finally realized I had better call Jade first. I hoped he was home. Of all the days we had planned separate things. He was with Mrs. K shopping for some clothes. With the hooks, holes kept wearing through in certain places. After a dozen rings I gave up, so I called Dr. Krazenski's number and got his answering service. I left an urgent message for Jade to call me and that I would be at a Mrs. Webster's house and that I would hopefully call in ten minutes with a number. (I was still a bit flustered).

I ran into the kitchen to tell my Mom where I was going but couldn't find her. How could she be outside? It was really cold. Got down to a record 4 degrees yesterday, and it wasn't much warmer today. I ran upstairs to put on a good shirt, and ran around looking for someone. Of all the times no one else was home. I finally just left a note for Mom on the kitchen table and ran out the back door. I ran almost all the way there. Too much snow and ice on the ground for a bike. Sure was a big winter so far. I slowed down a block away so not to be winded when I got to her door.

The address turned out to be on the corner, right at Welsh Rd. These were really old houses, probably some of the original ones built a hundred years ago or more when Holmesburg wasn't yet a part of the city. The traffic was always busy there. I was really shaking as I knocked on the door. Only seconds later the quintessential Negro housewife answered. She was big. And her smile was at first just as big until she looked down at me. I was apparently a disappointment. Now I got twice as nervous.

"Hello, Mrs. Webster. I'm Rocco. We just talked on the phone."

"Dear me Lord above, it IS a white boy! But you can't be more than a whippersnapper yourself." But she turned on her smile again. From the lines there it seemed her natural demeanor. She was all friendly again. I was invited in. And the place seemed so over furnished, like my Aunt Frances' place. There was quite a choice of chairs and a sofa. "Please make yourself comfortable." I started for a chair next to a window, but she intervened. "Well, maybe not there. Mr. Webster hasn't fixed that spring yet."

A minute later I was deeply imbedded (almost literally) in a soft lounge chair and with a large glass of sweet tea in my hand. And boy could she talk. It seemed that the phone had actually inhibited her if that were possible. "My, oh, my, land's sakes. I was wonderin' about that name. But I still expected someone older. Maybe 13 or 14."

"Mr. Webster, I know I'm young for my age, . . . I mean I LOOK young for my age, but I'm 16. Jade and I go to school together. We're in the same grade."

"My oh my, I guess I'm getting so old everyone seems like such a youngster to me now. And what school would that be? I can`t seem to remember just what that paper said."

"Jade is going to Father Judge High School now. We're both Juniors."

"Well, I should `a guessed with such an Italian name as yours. So you're Catholic? Then Jade is Catholic too?"

Jade should be here. He has been wondering why all the kids at school are so hung up on being Catholic, like that sets us apart or something. Well, maybe it does. "I'm Catholic, but Jade is sort of just, . . . I guess a Protestant. He sometimes goes to the Baptist Church over on Rawn, (well twice in the last year is sometimes, isn't it?), and sometimes goes to the Unitarian on Frankford."

Mrs. Webster smiled again at that. (Actually she just kept changing the size of her smile). It was strange, after just a short time I was really feeling at ease here. She was so easy to talk to.

"Well, I guess you could say that Mr. Webster is a Protestant too, and the day I haul him off to church, the streets of hell will turn to ice. But from Baptist to Unitarian, that's quite at opposite ends of the rainbow."

"Mrs. Webster, his Mama, who died two years ago, went to that Baptist Church, so I guess that's more out of habit, but I suppose he's starting to mostly go to the Unitarian one now. I tried to talk him into my church but he's resisting very well." I didn't know why I suddenly made a joke about it but that's me sometimes.

Well, anyway it took us over 15 minutes just to get past school and church and where he now lived. We finally got down to the important stuff. Mrs. Webster insisted on refilling my glass and I got permission to call Dr. Krazenski's answering service to give them her phone number. The next tea came with a clean glass.

"Mrs. Webster, Mrs. Warfield hasn't been able to find permanent foster parents for Jade, and maybe a large reason is that after April, the state won't give the family more money. But he's a great guy and we've been friends for a few years."

"I was sure curious about that, why a young boy would be listed on that circular to contact. And please forgive me, but when you showed up at the door, I was still expecting someone who at least looked older and who was well. . ." She didn't finish and I couldn't believe it. She maybe was embarrassed to mention I wasn't Negro.

"I guess I surprise a lot of people. Especially in this neighborhood. But I know a number of people around here. Several of Jade's other friends live a few blocks away." An easy way of saying I was not black without saying it.

She smiled. I started to categorize her smiles -- this one was luminous. "Well you hit that one over the head. You's sure surprisin'. And I was wonderin', . . . but I keep sidetracking m'self. Well, I mean how come you and not one of his closer friends?"

"Mrs. Webster, I'm Jade's closest friend." I wanted to say more but I had a brain clog.

Mrs. Webster's expression passed through a few diverse thoughts but finally settled on something that came back with a smile. "I sure knows the world's a changin' but I guess this is still a wonder. Well, how `bouts you tell me `bout it?"

I guess it was now or never. I gave a big chuckle. Or maybe a small laugh. Yes, I was so nervous I couldn't sit still. And she seemed to notice it. "Mrs. Webster, there's something you need to know right away. I'm not only Jade's closest friend, but over the past months . . ." Now I was suddenly unable to say it. "What I'm trying to say there's possibly one more reason why Jade hasn't been able to find permanent foster parents." But then I just froze. I couldn't make my mouth work.

Her smile dropped to very low wattage. But I think it was her being more serious than anything else. "Look, young man. I've raised three boys of my own, and three other foster kids, again all boys. I doubt you can tell me something about Jade, that one of my own boys ain't been mixed up in, . . . or about."

I was ready to bet her, but held out a secret hope that I'd lose. But I didn't really think so. "I don't really think so, Mrs. Webster. But I guess I have to just say it, and if you don't want Jade anymore that will be all right. You see Jade and I are more than friends. We're a couple." She looked confused. I took a shuddering breath. "We're both gay. We`re boyfriends." I could feel my heart beating. I never before just admitted it like this. "Sorry, . . . that was difficult for me to say." I was not looking at her `til I heard a small gasp.

I looked up and she was standing and just staring at me. "Oh well," I thought, "it was a good try." I was trying to disengage myself from the chair. But instead of saying anything, she went over to the mantle and picked up an old photo. I stood and took a step to see. It was a picture of a young soldier in uniform. She looked at it for some time and then turned. Finally she looked at me and she wiped some tears from her eyes. "I can't believe it after all these years, but I still get so sad. I said I raised three boys of my own, but for truth, this was my fourth. My baby. And I chased him away, out of the house. He too was homosexual, or gay as you said, and I couldn't abide it at the time. Well he joined the army to get away, and got hisself killed in Korea. An' I never got to tell him how much I still loved him."

I just sat there a little startled. I was wondering. How she found out about her son. "Sorry." What a weak reply but what could I say?

Just then the phone rang, and broke the tension. Mrs. Webster answered it and then handed the receiver to me. It was Jade; Mrs. K got my message. Eventually it was arranged that Mrs. K would drive him here, and twenty minutes later we were all in the kitchen, eating something Mrs. Webster called jambalaya. I was tentative at first but it was really good. Mr. Webster showed up just after Jade and seemed nice enough but hardly said a word after introductions. It was difficult to get a feel for him, but he at least wasn't unfriendly. He too was surprised to see a white kid in his house, but except for a hesitation shaking my hand, didn't comment on it.

Mrs. Webster seemed intrigued watching Jade eat, and even had a straw for him, which made it easier, especially with a glass glass.

"Well, that's George, my long sufferin' husband, if he has his say. He don't talk much so you have to ask him a question direct."

Mr. Webster looked and smiled for the first time. "You's `ll soon find out that Mrs. Webster's always right. So just direct your questions at her." As he said it he was smiling. He obviously meant it in a nice friendly way.

That sort of broke the ice again. So I guess he had a sort of sense of humor.

Finally Mrs. Webster said: "Well, Jade. It seems your friend here's already told me a lot about you. George, Jade here goes to school with his friend and he's a Junior. He gets good grades and I can tell he's a well mannered youngster. Which isn't always the case these days. And we mights as well get it right out, he and Rocco here are boyfriends. Or as Rocco said, they're a couple."

This time both Jade and Mr. Webster looked up a bit startled. Mrs. Webster seemed more satisfied than worried. Jade looked at me and I sort of nodded. He just smiled. Our ESP was still working at full level. But this time Mr. Webster did say something. "Look Clara, you know I don't . . ."

But Mrs. Webster stopped smiling and got a look like she was the queen of England. "Look George, we all `ll settle this right now. If Jade agrees to stay here, he has to know he'll get no sass from you. Not even a hard look. So what'd you say?"

Suddenly he just sort of softened. And I don't think it was by being intimidated. He got this look as he glanced at his wife that seemed to say he would do anything she wanted because he so cared for her. It was how I looked at Jade sometimes. He then looked at Jade. "She's right you know. For you to live here it wouldn't be fair if I made it difficult. I would only ask one thing. Just don't do anything with your friend here in public. Make sure your door's closed. I guess things are changin' and I `a been left behind. And that brings us to another thing. Just how in tarnation did you ever get hooked up with a white boy anyways?" He almost smiled as he said this. Telling was the fact he wasn't adverse to come right out and ask something like that.

Jade gave the very shortened version but also added how I'd been helping him at school.

"As I said, thing's are shore a' changin'. So you go to school with Rocco here. How come you're a year behind?"

And that brought up the subject of Jade's hooks, and even that Social Security mostly paid for them. We also talked about the fact that Jade wanted to stay at my school.

Mrs. Webster took over again and Mr. Webster seemed content to just listen in. "Don't worry Jade. That shouldn't be no problem. But we do need to say somethin'. When I talked with that Mrs. Warfield, it seems that they also had another boy that needed a place." Mrs. Webster looked over at her husband.

The looks they exchanged seemed to contain lots of unsaid words. In spite of her words earlier, Mr. Webster didn't seem to have been long suffering at all. Just long in love. And Mr. Webster must have already known about this other boy; he barely stirred.

Mrs. Webster continued: "An' he's 10 years old, and me and Mr. Webster plan on taking him in also. You both would still have your own room. This house's bigger than you think."

Mr. Webster looked at his wife and smiled. I think they were largely reserved for her. They were obviously still very much in love. The atmosphere felt nice, like there was a sort of love current in the air. "She tell you about Bobby yet? That started this whole foster thing."

So we eventually got the whole story. Their youngest son wasn't actually forced to leave, but with both parents so disapproving of his sexuality he decided to join the army to get away. And he died in Korea. Mrs. Webster was distraught for so many years about losing her son, and also changed churches when the preacher so condemned homosexuals. "They just no sir'ee goin' ta send my baby ta hell" as she put it. After her own kids grew up and were about to leave home, she started taking in a few foster kids. Three had stayed long term and now they had finally all left.

"So every time I think about my baby, I get so sad I just have to brighten myself up by carin' for someone else that needs carin' for."

Her husband suddenly piped in: "Amen to that."

"And don't think no different. George cares as much as I do." And then she looked at Jade again. "And I guess you need some time to think about things and maybe talk some to people, but don't feel you need to worry about George here. You're gay and that's all's to it. You see I even know the new vocabulary. Don't think we are some uneducated old colored folk. We talked some to a lot of people after my Bobby was lost. And Rocco, it'll seem strange to see a white boy here but please if Jade comes to live with us, just know you be very welcome at any time."

And so the rest of the day was spent talking about all kinds of things. I was exhausted when Jade and I left on our way back to my house. It was mostly from nerves and the tension of the whole thing. Jade and I talked and were completely unsure just what to do.

"How in the world, after all this time, did someone suddenly get the idea of taking me in?"

And so I told Jade about them having their last foster kid leave on his own and her husband retire on a pretty good pension from the city. He had been a trash collector most his working life. And so they wanted to move into a nicer house and a nicer neighborhood. So here they were.

"But how did she get a hold of that circular? I thought they were all torn down by now."

"I guess she found one of the old ones we put in a local store and she actually called Mrs. Warfield first. She then saw the same circular at the Unitarian Church last Wednesday. It seems she went there to see about going to church there. Apparently she had been a Baptist many years ago but couldn't put up with them condemning her youngest son. She called me just this morning. She was sure surprised when I showed up. I mean me being white. Should have known from the name though. And she at first thought I was 12 or something! I can't believe I look that young yet. And I can't believe it's only been five hours ago. Feels like I've been squeezed through a cotton gin -- slowly."

Jade and I talked about Mr. and Mrs. Webster all the rest of the way to my house. We went inside and my Mom greeted us in the kitchen, and got us a snack too. (We were growing boys after all, even if my growing was barely noticeable). We then filled in my Mom which took forever with all the questions.

I was still all hyped up in spite of being exhausted. "They are certainly nice people. And they raised seven boys already including three foster kids. They even said they were going to be getting another 10 year old boy soon."

Jade told my Mom he really didn't know just how to think about this chance. It was really hard to give up a place that was so great, but Dr. Krazenski did say on a few occasions that they only thought of Jade's stay with them as temporary.

About a half hour later, we were on our way to Dr. Krazenski's house. I was going to have dinner there. We decided that we needed to fill in both the doctor and his wife before any decision could be made. We didn't know whether to be happy or not. The whole situation had its own kind of upsetting-ness. Yet on the other hand, it could turn out pretty good.

We had a great leisurely dinner. Cher was eating at her girlfriend's house and staying overnight. That had been quickly arranged.

We all helped clear the table and get the dishes into the dish washer. We then went into the doctor's upstairs office. Dr. Krazenski started out the conversation. We hadn't gone into much detail at dinner. "So tell me Jade, what do you think? Anywhere close to a decision?"

And we explained the entire situation. I started off first since we decided to start at the beginning.

"You mean you just told her straight out about you and Jade?" The doctor was a little surprised. I don't know why.

"Well, I thought I may as well just get it over with. Why go through a lot of trouble to only find out later they wouldn't have him. And it wasn't just straight out. I used up three years supply of will power to actually say it."

"It didn't occur to either of you to just keep it all secret?"

Jade and I looked at each other. We were of one mind on this. He answered: "Rocco and I talked about this a lot. He hates it so much that he can't let most people know. He calls it living THE BIG LIE and he hates it. We agreed I wasn't going to live like that, if even for a couple years. At least not like that. It will be hardtated enough keeping it secret from his parents, but to have to do it where I lived too, that we couldn't live with. Or didn't want to live with."

The doctor went into one of his doctor modes. We could tell by his voice. "Well, the best I can determine, it is much more psychologically healthy to live without hiding yourself. At least that what the consensus is. And I agree." He then went into a lot of psychology stuff. "I think Rocco that you have shown a lot more maturity lately. Your decisions have shown this. I am glad. I will say it now. You were not only physically young, but a lot of your behavior was pretty immature. Now don't misunderstand. You were mostly well intentioned, and I liked that about you. You just needed to grow up a bit. And people mature at different rates. Both physically and psychologically. It was nothing to be concerned about. Only an observation."

I didn't know how to answer. I had mixed feeling about what he just said. My first reaction was to get very defensive, but maybe he was right. I finally answered: "Maybe it was Jade that helped."

Then the doctor said something that surprised me: "In fact, I think it was more your relationship with each other that helped. You matured as your relationship matured. I'm starting to think that you two may actually make a go of it. I had serious doubts a half year ago."

We took quite a while to finish. We talked a lot about how we felt and what we were worried about. Jade finally finished. "Look, to be honest. I like it here. I feel so safe here. It will be hard to leave something I`m so secure with to something so insecure. And I know that about myself now. I need so very much to have that deep security. Anything that threatens that frightens me. Rocco can attest to that."

The doctor replied: "That is quite normal. The need for security is quite universal. In your case it probably takes on a greater significance since you've been tossed around so much, and also have a greater need because of your prosthetics. We really can't ignore that. It's an important part of who you are."

I could see Jade so readily agreeing if only by his facial expression. We had talked about this very thing ourselves. "Jade also is embarrassed to say it so I will say it for him." I looked at him for permission. He ESP'd me it was OK. "He also finds it so nice here. You and your wife have been so kind, and he's really gotten to think of Cher as a sister. And there's also all the things that make living here so comfortable. How many kids our age have their own phone, color TV, and even an air conditioner in their room?"

Jade smiled at me. He ESP'd me he was glad I was the one who said it.

Then Dr. Krazenski said: "Well, we seemed to have covered most everything. There are just two things to think about. Jade, we have certainly been happy to have you here. You are definitely a good kid. But as I've said before, we had only thought of this as a temporary arrangement. And before you get all concerned, we still want the best for you. Please, I know that it will be both you and Rocco deciding, so both of you don't think you have to move out. If you really don't feel you want to live with the Webster's, please say so. I don't want to force that decision on you. And then there is one other thing that you perhaps haven't thought about. You said that the Webster's are getting another 10 year old boy. You will obviously have to discuss with the Webster's what to tell him."

Jade and I looked at each other. I suspect he had the same thought. How could we have forgotten that obvious complication?

We finally decided to not even worry about a decision for at least several days. And it would be obviously necessary to talk to the Webster's a lot more. And also to find out when the other boy was going to show up.

We started to get up and Dr. Krazenski seemed to hesitate a moment. "And there is just one more important thing." We sat down again. "I will assume that you intend to continue having sex with each other." Jade was lucky, his blush didn't show. "Look, just make sure that you do everything safely. There is obvious health complication involved in the kinds of sex acts that you might engage in. It's just the way things are. I would like you to be comfortable enough to see me regarding how to do things safely from a health perspective." He smiled trying to take some of the embarrassment away. It only helped a little. "And one additional warning, and this would definitely go for any couple. There are tremendous hazards for anyone engaging in sex with multiple partners. I would urge you for many reasons not to do it. Especially for the sake of your relationship. I can't believe it is any different for two boys, or a boy and a girl. You can help destroy even the strongest of relationships by being promiscuous, and from a health viewpoint, you can even endanger each other's health and possibly your lives."

I really couldn't imagine Jade cheating on me. And I sure wouldn't do it to Jade. "Doctor, two things. We have only just recently talked about oral sex and haven't actually engaged in it yet. And two, Jade and I both talked about this a number of times. We are committed to each other -- totally. Not only as a couple, but as a, I can't think of the word, but we definitely have no intention of being with anyone else." I could actually hear in my mind, Jade thanking me for saying it, so he didn't have to.

The next day was almost as strange. Mrs. Webster talking about switching churches got me thinking about that possibility for myself. Jade would never be comfortable in mine. I realized that now. And he was starting to attend services at the Unitarian Church. We needed to talk about this. And that just gave me another thought. I realized recently that whenever something happened, or I had an important idea, my first reaction was to talk about it with Jade. And I felt good about that.

And that's why what happened next was so very strange. I mean there sure are coincidences, but this was phenomenal. There were multiple coincidences. Coincidence number one, as I came to think of it, happened that very next morning. I had walked home late the other night thinking about a decision that I had seemed to have made without knowing about it before hand. It must have been percolating in the back of my mind for quite some time but suddenly, present circumstances brought to the fore. I was VERY dissatisfied with the Catholic Church. And not solely about their stance on homosexuality, though that was alone enough to settle things. It was other things too. Mainly it involved their so fervently rigorous stance on so many moral issues. They were right and everyone else was wrong. I thought that a lot of people are being so very hurt by their intransigence. (I had just recently used that word on Jade). History obviously indicated that, in spite of their religious intolerance and even arrogance, they had been so very wrong in the past about all kinds of important things. So how come that didn't teach them just a bit of humility and even some tolerance? And I personally believed they were wrong about homosexuality, not to mention contraception and divorce. Jade and I have talked about these things a bit, especially after we had covered it in school. And it was taking monstrous amounts of will power not to explode at things both our text and our teacher have stated to be definitively true. I mentioned a lot of this to Allen and Dan not too long ago also, but it now seems to have taken an increased importance.

So it was the next morning that coincidence number one occurred. Jade had shown up at my house, pacing back and forth, waiting for me to show up outside -- on my way to church at my usual time. But this time I had left a lot earlier since I was going to Jade's house instead. And I was sure surprised to see him right there.

"Is this a coincidence, or is your ESP especially acute this morning?" I asked Jade.

"Actually, I wanted to talk to you about something. I know you've mentioned a lot of things recently about being very upset about your Church, and I was thinking. How come you don't simply quit? I mean I can't say I was completely unselfish about this, but it would sure be nice if we could find a church we could go to together. And I'm sorry, but I just can't be a Catholic."

Holy smoke. And holy a lot of other things. And so, about a half hour later we were on our way to the Unitarian Church and hoping to see maybe Reverend Burrowes a moment before the service. (Well, I have to admit I am always impatient. We surely could just as well talk to him afterwards). So, about 15 minutes before services were to begin, we found ourselves in front of what I thought of as perhaps my new Church. What a distance I've come from two years ago. We went in, and there was Reverend Burrowes tacking something up on the bulletin board it the vestibule.

We headed toward him. I hadn't been here since Dan and Allen's wedding over two months ago, but I guess we were easy to remember. So when he turned around he warmly greeted us by name.

"So what brings you two here?"

And we told him. "So I guess we are perhaps your newest parishioners." I said. And just as we were going to talk about Mr. and Mrs. Webster, coincidence number two occurred.

From behind us we heard: "Why Jade and Rocco, how very surprised I am to see you two here. I was just thinking about you two on my way over here this morning." And there was Mrs. Webster.

And so that brought on a conversation about the obvious. Fortunately, Mrs. Webster had to curtail her monologue. Services were about to begin.

We later formally sign up as members of the church and as we walked home Jade asked me the next obvious question: "So what are you going to tell your parents? They will eventually have to find out."

"Well, it's just like everything else. Hopefully later than sooner. Much later. But I guess I'll just tell them the truth if I'm forced to say anything at all. Or at least most of it. I certainly don't intend to lie. But I can probably go a long time without them finding out. As you noticed no doubt, the people in my family all seem to go to separate Masses. And to tell you the truth, it never occurred to me until now to wonder about that. I guess it might seem a bit strange. But one thing that seemed to help it along, there are specific Masses for different age groups of kids. All the grade school kids go to the nine o'clock Mass and have arranged seats. While my parents preferred to go at other times. And so I really think that no one will notice for quite some time if I am just a smidgen careful."

We had walked home with Mrs. Webster after the service which I found awfully refreshing for a change. Reverend Burrowes started out the sermon by saying that we need not think alike to love alike. I really liked that. It was so much more upbeat and positive compared to the much shorter sermons we got at my old Church. And we all decided that Jade and I and the Webster's needed to talk a lot more. So we were invited to their house at 1 PM. (By that time Mr. Webster was sure to be up). And it was nearing the time for coincidence number three.

"So, back so soon. You mean Mrs. Webster hadn't talked you into petrifaction yet?" That was Mr. Webster.

"Oh George, sit down and eat your breakfast, and why you insist on calling it that at this time of the day I'll never know."

Jade and I looked back and forth to see reactions but they were both smiling. Actually Mrs. Webster was obvious, and I was starting to be able to read Mr. Webster's demeanor and he also seemed in good spirits. I soon found out that they bantered back and forth like this a lot. We talked about the possibility of Jade staying there and what all of us both would hope for and also expect.

Mrs.Webster was saying: "So no drink -- and you know what kind I'm talking about, no drugs, and no smoking in the house. And I see you both shaking your heads so I suppose that means neither of you have picked up that disgusting habit." And she looked at her husband as she said this.

He finally put in a few words: "I gave up the habit almost twenty years ago, but do you think she'll let me forget that I ever did at one time smoke? Well you can see the answer to that yourselves."

I was real glad to see Mr. Webster so at ease with us. After yesterday, when he found out we were gay I was wondering.

It was definite that Jade could finish out school at Father Judge. In fact Dr. Krazenski had even called and introduced himself to them. He also mentioned that he would talk to them if they ever so desired and finally that he would be glad to help with tuition if need be. Mrs. Webster showed us what would be Jade's room if he came to live there. It was a medium sized room at the back. It didn't have a phone line, or color TV, or air-conditioning, but how many kid's rooms did? I estimated that it was more probable that a boy's room would be painted pink.

As the afternoon wound on, both Jade and I were getting more comfortable with the Webster's. And then coincidence number three walked in the front door. The coincidence's name was Tim Matthews. I thought he was older than 10 but that's what Mrs. Webster had told us yesterday. Immediately behind him was Mrs. Warfield carrying a suitcase.

"Holy shit. What're you doin' here Jade?" That was Tim. Then he looked at me and grinned. I really liked the boy in spite of his high jinx, or maybe because of them. I believe he got into more trouble at his age than I even did. A really determined boy.

Mrs. Webster came up to Mrs. Warfield and took the suitcase. "So I see you were able to get here today after all." She looked at the not so small boy and said: "So you're Tim. I'm Mrs. Webster and that's Mr. Webster. And it seems that you know Jade?"

"Wow. Sure. And Rocco too. He's neat sometimes. But what're THEY doin' here?"

"Well, it just so happens young man that not only are you to stay here, but Jade too if he chooses."

"Oh yeah, I heard about his uncle gon' n`a jail. And I wondered where he an' Rocco got ta. I hadn't seen them forever." (I guess to a ten year old, a few months is forever).

And that's another topic Jade and I hadn't mentioned to the Webster's. At least other than the barest bones. We figured probably not necessary. I wondered just how much Tim knew. How much of the story had circulated by now.And sure enough I found out.

Tim ran over to me and looked up. (OK, so not very far up, but it WAS up). "Wow, I never met anyone who was kidnapped before. What all happened?" Either typical kid, or at the least, typical Tim.

Now all eyes were on me. Of course Mrs. Warfield knew it all, or most the details. But the Webster's seemed a bit shocked. Mrs. Warfield said: "How about we talk about it later Tim? You need to get settled in I guess."

"But nobody tells me nothin'! An' how come Jade's here? Nobody tells me nothin'!" That was one of his favorite laments.

Mrs. Warfield explained: "You know Jade's uncle went to jail as you said, so Jade needs a foster family too. Where he was staying was just temporary." I looked over at Jade and he was pretending to be long suffering. He really likes Tim also, but as I said, Tim could be a real chore. Another thing I realized made him so easy for me to like, he was almost always a happy kid, in spite of all the troubles he's had. If I remembered correctly, this had to be his third foster family. I wasn't surprised he was needing new ones. The last people he was with practically ignored him and the Dad was drunk half the time. I couldn't understand how they got approved as foster parents. I wondered what finally happened. Again I was to find out.

"Great. I hope I can stay here this time. They took me from my last place over a month ago, and it wasn't so bad." I wondered what he would consider bad. I think they took him in for the state money. I was happy for him. I think he would have a good place here. "Can I stay this time?" He seemed to be pleading to everyone in general.

But it was Mrs. Webster who picked him up and held him for a moment. I could see he was trying his best to hold back his tears. Perhaps a lot of his posturing was more bravado than I thought. Here was a kid starving for affection.

I looked over at Jade and he read my mind. I was starving for affection too. We told everyone that we would be going but that we'd be back the next day about mid-afternoon, after school.

"Don't go. I want you here." Tim pleaded.

I answered: "Don't worry Tim. We'll see you tomorrow. How about finding all about you new home. I can tell you personally, Mr. and Mrs. Webster are great folks. And I'm sure Jade agrees."

We made our goodbyes as fast as we could. Which was only moderately fast, and we left. Feeling pretty good too.

It was almost dinner time. I could hardly believe the time went so fast. We almost went to the park, so Jade could show his affection so to speak, but realized it was just too late. "You know we never did explain to the Webster's about me being kidnapped. And we haven't talked to them about how much we need to tell Tim. And what a coincidence that is!"

"You know Rocco; I'm finally starting to think about living there. I think it might really work out. And in spite of his incessant talking, I really like Tim. Remember when we taught him to play half-ball last year? He never would quit trying in spite of striking out most the time. He sure had a whole lot of determination. And he didn't get half bad either."

As we got to my house I mentioned to Jade about Mrs. Warfield being the one that would formally set Jade there if he chose to do that. "And I was wondering just how much she will tell them about the thing with your uncle."

"Well, I guess it don't really matter too much. I mean, they already know about us and that didn't put them off. And you're right; we do need to talk to them about Tim and what he needs to know. It sure helps though us knowing each other so much already. That takes most the wondering out of it." Jade paused and then said: "Am I forgetting anything? Anything else we need to consider before we make our decision?"

"I can't think of anything. But let's sleep on it and maybe we'll think of something else. There's school tomorrow."

And so we talked about it all week. And visited them everyday. Even ate there a few more times. Tim was amazing. I couldn't believe the radical change in just a few days. He had quieted down (well somewhat), and half the time was just tight up against Mrs. Webster. In the evening they watched TV together that way. I was liking her more and more. She seemed the essential Mom. I guess she had so much practice. Tim was always thrilled to see us. I hadn't realized we had made that much an impression on him the few times we were together.

And we did eventually talk to Mrs. Webster again about our being gay and what Tim needed to know. Mrs. Webster finally said: "Well. I'm sure he's heard of it. These days everyone has. But why not just take things as they happen. And Jade, if you do finally decide to come live here, I guess just be conscious of how you and Rocco behave in front of Tim. He needs a lot of attention right now and maybe just try to be concerned enough about Tim, that you decide to behave. I suppose you know what I'm sayin'. In spite of how he acts, this is one sorely hurt boy. This is his fifth foster home in as many years, and that has to be bad. In a few more years he might have been harmed beyond help. Only because he's such a strong kid has he survived this well. And I don't know just what you two did for him this past year or so, but he really talks about you guys a lot."

By now, both Jade and I were feeling the strong emotion of her appeal. And I think it was exactly then that Jade had decided. I thought it was just like him. His final decision was made, at least in part, to help someone else.

On our way to my house, I leaned over and he hugged me tight. It felt so good. "I guess you decided. I can see it in your eyes."

Jade and I just walked with our own thoughts for several blocks until Jade stopped and faced me. "You know White-boy, I was just thinking. Mama said God gave me you, and that's for sure. But I was also thinking. I sure know that God must have given Tim, Mrs. Webster. But maybe He also wants me there to help him too."

"You mean US there don't you?" And we smiled. And I finally remembered about my Christmas present. I realized it couldn't be a surprise. I couldn't arrange it in time. All week we were so filled up with the Webster's and even a couple more TV repairs we squeezed in.

"Jade I have a Christmas present for you, and although it was supposed to be a surprise, I guess now that I think about it, it's more for us. I borrowed a large format Grafex camera for this weekend and I want to take some special pictures of us together." And I explained further. He was as thrilled as I was. This was going to be the best Christmas of our lives.

That night I realized that I hadn't written in my Journal "for forever" as Tim would have said. Damn. I couldn't even find it. Well, thank you so much God. Please help us to give back at least as much as we've received.

Copyright 2006 by Rocco Paperiello